Posted by Editoress on 06/25/10
Tuft and Beveridge National Champions
The 2010 Road Nationals began on Friday with the time trial, and four titles were awarded for Elite and Under 23 men and women. Julie Beveridge (Equipe Vienne Futuroscope) took both the Under 23 and Elite titles for the women, while Svein Tuft (Garmin-Transitions) repeated as men's Elite champion and Hugo Houle (Equipe Quebec) took the Under 23 men's title.
The time trials were held in the town of Devon, south and west of Edmonton. While most of the surrounding country is flat, race organizers managed to find an out and back course that included a tough descent and climb out of a river valley. The women rode 21.4 kilometres and the men 42.2 kilometres. In addition to the valley, which the riders had to climb out of in both directions, headwinds on the outward leg added to the difficulty.
In the women's race, the battle was expected to be between defending champion Tara Whitten (Specialized Mazda Samson G Conseil) and Beveridge, with former champion Anne Samplonius (Vera Bradley Foundation) and Webcor's Erinne Willock also potential podium contenders.
Leah Kirchman (Trek Red Truck p/b Mosaic Homes) set the first sub 31:30 time, and it steadily dropped by a few seconds at a time until Veronique Bilodeau (Equipe Quebec) was the first to go under 30 minutes at 29:45.4, which would be good enough to win her the silver medal in the Under 23 category. Willock, eighth from last, dropped the best time to 29:09.1 which held until the final three riders began to come, all below 29 minutes.
Samplonius was the third from the end, and took the lead with 28:53.3, but Beveridge was right behind her, and 2.3 seconds faster. The only possible change was an even faster ride by Whitten, and it look like she might pull it off. At the halfway mark, Whitten was fastest by 20.2 seconds, and as she entered the descent of the river valley, with approximately five kilometres to go, she was still up by 13 seconds.
However, the final climb proved to be the deciding factor, with Whitten losing 11 of the those seconds to Beveridge's superior climbing skills, and then conceding even more in the last rolling three kilometres to the line, eventually taking third, 5.5 seconds down on Beveridge.
"I knew that this course suited me [more than last year]," commented Beveridge. "The climbs were harder than you realized, and I have been doing a lot of climbing this year, especially at Tour de l'Aude."
Whitten, clearly disappointed to lose the title she has held for the past two years, said "this year the course didn't suit me as well as previously. I'm more of a power rider, so the flatter, rolling courses are better for me. All I could try to do was to limit my losses on the climbs, but unfortunately, it wasn't enough."
In the men's race, Tuft was the favourite by far, with most of the field virtually conceding the win to him. Back to Canada after a spring of racing on the ProTour circuit, including the Giro d'Italia, Tuft was unstoppable, finishing nearly two minutes up on second place Zach Bell (Kelly Benefit Strategies), and close to three minutes ahead of bronze medalist Ryan Roth (SpiderTech p/b Planet Energy).
Ed Veal (La Bicicletta) set the first sub 53 minute time, but was soon surpassed by Andrew Randell (SpiderTech p/b Planet Energy), at 52:32.7 . Randell's time was eventually good enough for 11th, before Nic Hamilton (Trek Red Truck p/b Mosaic Homes) dropped the leading time below 52 minutes.
The times continued to drop slowly until François Parisien (SpiderTech p/b Planet Energy) put in a very strong 51:15, which held up until the final three riders came through the finish line. Ryan Roth (SpiderTech p/b Planet Energy) knocked eight seconds off the top time, but was immediately supplanted by Bell, nearly a minute faster at 50:12.3 .
However, Bell knew that his time in the lead was very limited - Tuft had already made up a minute and five seconds of the two minute gap by the turn around, and looking over his shoulder at the finish he could see his former Symmetrics team mate powering to the line, only ten seconds back. Tuft's time was a very impressive 48:23.1 .
Bell was not unhappy with his second place. "For the last three years I've finished third," he commented. "Two years ago, Svein caught me before the turn, and last year a little after the turn, so just to avoid getting caught is a big accomplishment."
Tuft pointed to having Bell as his 'rabbit', as a factor in his phenomenal ride, as well as having an opportunity to spend some time on his TT bike. "Zach was very strong today, and it gave me the best possible rider to chase. The other thing is that I've actually had some time now to ride my TT bike, which we don't usually get to do. Usually, we are either racing or resting, so this has been a real bonus for me to be able to practice and prepare like this."
- Commissaires were being especially vigilant about bike set up, requiring every rider to have their bike tested in a jig, and then checking elbow extension angle before passing them to ride. A few riders had to make last minute adjustments, and Whitten wasn't able to ride her Specialized Shiv - a bike that used to be legal, but has since been declared illegal by the UCI.
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